Heretic on the Hill: The Keys to Our Success

By Scott MacConomy, SCA’s Director of Policy and Government Affairs.

Two things the Secular Coalition for America needs to be successful on Capitol Hill:

1. YOU

We need you to let your representatives know what bills are important to the Secular Agenda, and to let them know when someone on the Hill crosses the line that separates religion and government. Such as asking a nominee for an important job in the Department of Justice, “Do you believe in God?” Senator Kennedy (R-LA) asked this question last week despite Article 6, Clause 3 of the Constitution stating about as clearly as possible, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Clause 3 contains the only explicit reference to religion in the original seven articles of the Constitution, demonstrating the intention of the Founders to separate church and state even before the Establishment Clause was added in the Bill of Rights.

The Secular Coalition for America pushed back on Senator Kennedy’s question immediately, and pointed out his inconsistency in raising this question after complaining about questions regarding faith when they were posed to a Supreme Court nominee last year. We need you to let your representatives know when they cross the line, or when they need to stand up to those who do cross the line.

2. ALLIES ON CAPITOL HILL

We need Members of Congress who will work together to represent you and all secular Americans. Almost every Member lists a religion or denomination on their bio. To do otherwise is seen as damaging reelection prospects if nothing else. Identifying with a faith in no way prevents them from standing up for the separation of religion and government, for science and scientists informing national policy, and from recognizing the rights of millions of secular Americans (a significant and growing voting bloc).

We have a group on Capitol Hill committed to these principles; the Congressional Freethought Caucus. Founded three years ago, the CFC provides us with a pool of representatives to ask about introducing a new bill or cosponsoring a bill already pending in Congress. We know who to go to for advice about our legislative agenda or the best way to get a bill passed through a committee that a CFC member sits on.

In addition to holding regular meetings of business, the caucus also convenes special events. During this legislative session we joined the CFC for a special hearing on Christian nationalism's role in the January 6th Insurrection and the caucus' first annual Thomas Paine Breakfast, an event to honor the ideals of reason, freethought, science, and ethics that were championed by the freethinking Founder. We look forward to similar events with them in the future.

What would make the Congressional Freethought Caucus even more valuable is adding more members. That’s where you come in. Click here to ask your representatives to join the Congressional Freethought Caucus.

Be sure to sign up to our email list to receive a copy of Heretic on the Hill in your inbox, Scott’s bi-monthly update on our advocacy work on behalf of nontheist Americans and the separation of religion and government.

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